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How to Prepare for Year-End Giving

2 weeks ago By Kristin Hammett

With fall upon us, the cooler temperatures, autumn colors, and pumpkin spice everything, the year-end giving season is also here. The 2022 Year-End Giving will be interesting to watch. The 2022 Giving USA report, measuring 2021 giving numbers, reported an overall increase in giving of 4%, but when adjusted for inflation, it was down 0.7%. Giving from individuals increased nearly 5% over 2020, but remains below 70% of all giving for the 4th year in a row. Additionally, bequest gifts were down by over 7%. In light of the current giving climate, I have three ideas for nonprofit leaders to develop strong year-end messaging and successful year-end fundraising campaigns. Show your stuff. As you fine-tune your year-end messaging, consider sharing your impact through statistics and stories. Great messaging happens throughout the year, but year-end is the time to reinforce the impact you have been demonstrating all along. Share your success through progress reports, social media posts, videos (professional or organic from your phone), email, direct mail, phone calls, and personal meetings. Do it all. Tell your story well. The end of the year is the time to remind donors of the impact their generosity has within your work. As they contemplate their year-end giving decisions, be certain they understand the impact their gift has on those you serve. Be confident in the work God is accomplishing through your nonprofit! Motivate mid-level donors. When planning your end of year fundraising efforts, remember your mid-range donors. They are a valuable donor group that is discerning how to maintain generosity in a high-inflation environment. They consider tax implications of donating—or not. You need a messaging strategy which speaks to them directly. Reinforce the importance of the work they are accomplishing with their gift. Remind them they are solving problems and helping meet the needs of people you serve. Steward this relationship well – it may be at risk! Educate them on charitable bunching strategies – giving more through a donor advised fund one year and taking the standard deduction the next year. Segment your mid-level donors and send additional communication tailored with a special year-end message for them. Emphasize existing partners Often the trendy nonprofit fundraising idea is to attract new donors, but your year-end fundraising campaigns should focus on current donors. It is not wrong to get new donors, but invest more time in those already committed to the work you do. Building long-term relationships with donors leads these individuals to give large donations down the line that can help your organization the most. According to Bloomberg, most major gifts are given after 5 years of giving to an organization. Spend your time on those who have already demonstrated a commitment to your work. Donor acquisition strategies can take place the rest of the year. Remember, you cannot control the economy, global events, or a donor’s family circumstances. You CAN control your year-end message, how you communicate it, and to whom you communicate it. As you plan your year-end fundraising strategy, focus on what you are accomplishing. The problems you are helping solve are important. Donors partner with your nonprofit to make an impact. The impact of a year-end donation does not change.

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Nonprofits
Nonprofits

Cash Isn’t Really King: Noncash Contribution Strategies

3 weeks ago By Kristin Hammett

The Signatry works with nonprofit leaders to strengthen their development strategies by helping them engage in major donor conversations, including conversations about noncash contributions. We talk a lot about noncash gifts and we want to be sure our impact partners understand the significant opportunities available. Noncash charitable contributions can benefit both the donor and the recipient. What does “noncash” really mean? When talking about noncash contributions, we mean wealth outside of the checkbook. This can be anything from stocks to cryptocurrency to real estate and business interests. The Signatry’s team has experience managing all of these gift types. God owns it all and has entrusted it to donors’ care and stewardship. He wants us to hold everything we have with open hands. Isn’t cash king? Net Worth Breakdown   |   Giving Breakdown In a word? No. 90% of America’s wealth is in assets other than cash. Only 10% of our wealth is in the checkbook. Yet, 80% of giving happens in cash, and only 20% of charitable investment is given from the larger, noncash bucket. There is an enormous opportunity to help donors think differently about how they give: even their noncash assets could become part of their generosity plan. How can a nonprofit work with major donors? Nonprofit leaders are uniquely positioned to connect God’s resources and His work. That often starts with education. Donors don’t know what they don’t know. Before talking through the details of an asset gift, donors need to better understand the work the organization is doing and where their gift is going. A big vision, clearly expressed, serves as a catalyst for transformational generosity. When donors are engaged in the work and excited by the vision, development officers can share the opportunity to give differently and more generously. Here are some ideas to consider in your donor conversations: Start planting seeds. Include noncash contribution options on your donation page. Share the opportunity in your newsletter and your email footer. Discover more verbiage ideas in the Asset Gift Based Referral Language Guide. Share the opportunity. Look through your donor list for business owners. Begin to ask them questions about the business: What does your business do? What do you and your family like about it? You’ll find more questions in our Noncash Asset Fundraising Guide. Don’t overthink it. You don’t have to be the technical expert. Consider The Signatry your partner for complex, noncash contributions. We have attorneys and accountants who can help guide the donor through the process. Nonprofit and ministry organizations are doing the most important work there is. From Bible translation and evangelism to education and health care, the work matters, and it is worthy of all the generosity tools available. Transformational gifts have transformational impact.

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Nonprofits
Nonprofits

5 Tips to Connect with Donors in your Year-End Fundraising

1 month ago By Kristin Hammett

I read a meme in August that said, “School is starting … buy your Halloween costumes, pick out your turkey, and do your Christmas shopping. Happy New Year!” I resonate with this, and I am sure you do, too. Your donors probably do, too. Year-end fundraising is probably the busiest and most critical part of a nonprofit’s fundraising strategy. How can you best connect with your donors during this busy time? How can you best engage them and make the case for year-end giving? Over 30% of all charitable giving happens in December, so there is a lot of opportunity left as you shape your year-end fundraising ideas and message for you to articulate your work, differentiate your nonprofit, and connect with your donors. In an effort to come alongside you, equip you in development work, and partner with you in major donor conversations, I want to encourage you to look for ways to differentiate yourself and use these year-end fundraising ideas.  5 Tips to Connect with Donors in your Year-End Fundraising Connect with donors personally. As a part of your year-end giving campaign text donors, email them personally, call them, or write them a note. There are lots of ways to effectively connect with donors. Thank them for their support, share the impact of the work, and ask for continued investment in the work. Always ask how they are and how you can pray for them. Relationship matters, and people want to feel valued.  Expand donors’ giving capacity. 90% of Americans’ wealth is in assets outside of cash, yet 80% of giving is from cash. There is a significant opportunity to educate donors on how to give assets. Start with publicly traded securities, like stocks. I just talked with a ministry today who brought this up in a conversation while connecting with a donor, and they chose to give at year end with appreciated stock. It is a smart and efficient way for donors to give more and save tax, and it sets you apart. In uncertain economic times, this helps donors consider a whole new category for giving. This can include private business interest, real estate and a variety of other non-cash assets.   Give donors context. Donors are looking at their year-end giving plans, they are listening for what you will do with their gift. Speak the language of the giver. Tell them how their gift will make a difference. Investors do not want to see a short-term fix, they want to bring transformation.   For example, my husband and I recently met with a pregnancy center ministry we have supported for some time. The ministry leaders shared how the timeline for the women they serve has accelerated, creating a greater need for early intervention activity by the ministry. Understanding how they have adapted their interaction helped us, as donors, understand more about the urgency and need for increased investment in the cause.  Make the case for support. With so many things vying for their attention, especially at year end, donors may not have your organization top of mind, so clarity is key in every medium of donor communication. Share your mission and vision, the problem you are solving, your method or solution, the impact you have, and how you want donors to support the work.  Celebrate! In this year-end fundraising season, share with donors how God has used them. How exciting that the God of the universe would use them to help accomplish His work! Show them how God provided. Consider sharing a donor story and how God has connected their hearts with your work. Applaud the story of one. Connect a donor to the transformation of one person’s life. Help the donor empathize and understand what was accomplished through their generosity.  The last days of 2022 will go by quickly. Block time today. Fine-tune your year-end fundraising strategies to differentiate your organization. Set time apart to intentionally connect with donors. Help them understand the context of the work and make a clear case for their generous support. As you serve donors well, share all opportunities to give outside the checkbook, too. Enjoy this season of connecting donors with the work God is doing through your nonprofit!

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Nonprofits

Key Insights Into a Major Donor Plan

4 years ago By Kristin Hammett

Ministries have been entrusted with a calling to serve their communities and God’s Kingdom and challenged to fund that work effectively. Major donors, entrusted with God’s resources, are a crucial strategy for any non-profit development effort. All donors play an essential role in ministry support, but nearly 90% of donations come from approximately 10% of donors. Thus, creating a major donor plan is crucial to the success and sustainability of your organization. Do you have a major donor plan? If so, does it include all the key components? Here are a few tips to get started or to evaluate your current efforts. Identify potential major givers. Determining who believes in your mission and who has the capacity to give is a crucial first step. You’ve heard me say before that ministry development is the connection point of God’s work to His resources. Begin your major donor efforts by looking for those with the capacity to give and evaluate their alignment with your mission. A good starting point is to leverage your leadership team and board members. You board may be well connected to individuals who are willing and capable of becoming a major donor. These individuals may include business owners, entrepreneurs, real estate developers, corporate executives, as well as many others. Generous people and potential major donors are all around us. Understand their needs Once you’ve decided who your potential major givers are, learn about them. Get to know their story. What causes do they care about it? If they’ve already given to your cause, why do they give? Listen well. This will set the stage for a conversation that will speak to their interests and how they relate to your needs. Provide a personalized approach Cultivating major donors is a relational investment. Face to face meetings are preferred to phone calls, emails, or letters. In-person meetings show you care and are willing to invest in relationships. This helps you understand what programs a potential giver may align with best and gain insight into what they care about most. Creating a communication strategy that extends past the initial gift will continue to earn their trust and loyalty in the future. Create a clear call to action Don’t forget the ask. Often if an individual is willing to meet, they are prepared to take the next step of giving, but only when there is a clear call to action. When you create a call to action, be very clear where the gift is going. For example, you can say, “Would you being willing to give a gift of X amount of dollars to help us with _____?” You can fill in the blank with the project your organization’s needs. Give a detailed follow-up. Plan how you will personally thank your donor after the gift is received. Once a donor has given an initial gift, follow up by sharing the impact of their contribution. This personalized approach will prove to encourage a long-standing relationship that benefits you and your major donors. Cultivating major donors is a significant endeavor. Remember this is a process; don’t get discouraged. Stay in contact with prospective donors. Perhaps this isn’t the right time for them, but a year later maybe. Remember, this is about relationships, and those take time to build, foster and grow.

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Nonprofits

Purposeful Events—Move from Transaction to Transformation

4 years ago By Kristin Hammett

Events are powerful in building relationships, awareness, and loyalty with your donors. Whether it is a banquet, retreat, golf tournament, or an auction –– events can be a great tool to dramatically grow your support.   Plan. An effective event has a strategic purpose, measurable objectives, and a clear outline of the steps needed to achieve your goals. When determining your purpose, it is essential to define your objectives. Are you hosting a fundraising event? If so, how much money do you want to raise? Having a clear understanding of your goals positions your organization to select the best steps to effectively meet them.    Engage. The key to a successful event is personal engagement which leads to transformation. Real change happens when your audience begins to move beyond the transaction of giving and focus on the broader experience. Emphasizing the heart and mindset of possible change, and not just money will impact their hearts and partnership is likely to follow. By inviting guests to join in the mission and play an active role in problem-solving, they will see themselves as a part of the story – one where they can be the hero.  Review. It is no secret that events require a lot of work. After it is over, you will most likely want to stop thinking about it altogether! But, this is when the real developmental work begins. Measuring your ROI (return on investment) is imperative for planning future events. The data you gather will offer deeper insight into your event expenditure and better understand how it impacts your bottom line.   Follow Up. Saying thank you to your volunteers, donors, and sponsors goes a long way. Continuing to engage your donors into the problem they are helping solve rather than a merely transactional receipt, will benefit both your organization and those who support it. And don’t stop with a thank you letter. Call them, engage them, meet for coffee. Get to know your donors! An event is just the beginning of what can be a great donor/ministry relationship! 

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Nonprofits

Making Donors the Hero of Your Story

4 years ago By Kristin Hammett

We all see things from our own perspective. Donors do too. They see through their own lens of experience and perspective. To communicate effectively, strive to meet your donors where they are and provide answers to the questions, they may not realize they are asking. Donors often ask themselves “How does this impact me?” “What’s in this for me?” “What if this were me?” Providing answers to these questions will connect your donors to your mission. Below are a few important questions to begin thinking along these lines. How do donors help your organization succeed? What difference does their support make? What is the impact of their donation? Who are the donors helping? There are many heroes in your organization already: volunteers, board members, clients who make a brave choice, employees, etc. However, your donor-facing communication isn’t the time to sing their praises. Consider how your communication makes your donor feel. Do they feel empowered? Do they feel angry about the injustice that is happening? Do they feel they can help? Communication with your donors should be focused on them. Make the donor the hero of your story and the impact will be powerful. The key is to minimize your organization and center your communication on the donor and the client. You can accomplish this by making small changes in your language. For example, Will you help feed the hungry in our community this week? or Because of you, we were able to feed the hungry in our community. (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a great example of this with their “because of you” campaign) Invite donors to participate in your efforts, don’t guilt them. It is important to avoid the implication that your donor should do something, but rather focus on the idea that they can do something. Fundraising is about waking up an army of heroes to join you in your mission. It’s about inviting people in by letting them believe in their own power. By simplifying your message, you invite the donor to be the hero. You offer them an invitation to take action and join your cause.  

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Nonprofits

Creating a Culture of Development

4 years ago By Kristin Hammett

Develop: advance, establish, flourish, expand, grow, progress. When you think about the development role, those might be the idealistic synonyms that come to mind. However, more often than not, we think about development as bringing in money, knocking on doors, sales tactics, and not as a holistic concept with a heart for flourishing. By instilling a culture of development throughout your entire organization, rather than just an isolated role, it begins to shift perspective. Your customer service experience, the way your staff talks about their job to their friends, and inter-office communication are just a few pieces which shape your culture and its development potential. To challenge your mindset or to evaluate where your organization is at, consider these questions: How equipped is your staff to talk about the initiatives you are working on? By keeping all staff informed, you speak value to them, and you build a core base of advocates to promote your work. Suddenly, your reach is expanded beyond just a designated development officer. Even a casual conversation with an entry-level staff member has the opportunity to open doors with new donors.  On a larger scale, your organization develops a reputation based off how your employees speak of it. Evaluate how you are educating all your staff and including them in conversations about your mission and the heart of who you are. What about when mistakes happen? While we all want to plan for the best, the reality is at some point, we all drop the ball. Mistakes happen. Emails get stuck in the drafts folder. A check gets lost. Are you prepared to serve your donors well even in your less than glorious moments? Having a culture that works hard for the victories, but also serves just as passionately in the messy and the mundane moments will take intentional leadership to coach and model these attitudes. How do people describe your leaders? Creating culture is not an overnight change, and it can even require painful shifts on occasion. To start reviewing where your organization is, consider how outsiders view and describe your leadership. Accessible? Authority? Servant? Caring? Leader, but without connection to their people? What your leaders live out at the top sets the standard for the organization, and it is also the most visible piece to those outside. These questions are just the start of the journey towards inspiring a development culture, so keep in mind that this truly is a process. It will take time, continued evaluation and course corrections. However, each authentic change is another piece to establish how you flourish, progress, grow, advance, and establish. Looking for more practical details? Join our webinar on January 16 to learn how leadership can set a culture.  

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